Sunday, February 17, 2013

Walking a Mile in Her (High Heel) Shoes

Last week I happened to be looking through my husband's Facebook feed.  He has about a gazillion friends from all over the place, and it is interesting to scroll through his list every now and then.  Well, I was just scrolling along and saw a series of photos and posts that one of his friends had made about his daughter's high school beauty pageant.  There were lots of comments and likes, saying that she would do wonderful and how beautiful she looked.  And my simple, hypocritical mind went into overdrive.

She didn't seem all that beautiful to me, not the beauty pageant kind, anyway.  I mean, her dress was pretty enough, but she was very puffy and pale, and her hair was just blah.  Even in the pictures she looked like she was hating every minute of it.  I started to wonder if her parents were making her do this pageant.  Couldn't they tell that she was miserable and would probably be laughed at or joked about later?  I mean, I don't even know her parents, but surely someone could have used a little more wisdom in this situation, right?  I have lots of parenting books that I could recommend.  Of course, I wasn't being critical or anything, just concerned for that poor girl's feelings.  Ri-i-i-i-ght....

So, out of curiosity, I clicked on the girl's name, and was able to scroll through some old posts and pictures. Long story short, she was a tiny little thing with gorgeous hair and a great smile about 3 or 4 years ago.  I could tell that from her cheerleading and class favorite pictures.  Then there were various hospital pictures, because after a while and through much pain, she received her diagnosis.  No, it wasn't cancer, but it is a very painful degenerative condition that is treated with steroids.  You know, those drugs that cause weight gain and hair loss and are tolerated as a last resort of trying to keep the pain away.

So much for my self righteous goodness masquerading as parental/societal concern.

I went back through those pageant pictures again, with a different set of eyes (and heart).  I saw a young lady that is a fighter, and who isn't going to let her pain and limitations dictate her choices and the things she enjoys.  She was her school's homecoming queen last year, and class favorite every year, so obviously her peers think she is special.  I saw parents who are unbelievably proud of their daughter's perseverance and spirit, and who are probably just happy she is still with them and functioning.  I saw the grandparents whose hearts probably break every time they think of what life has handed their granddaughter, but they put on their own cloaks of courage whenever they are face to face with her..

Their unbelievable beautiful granddaughter.

I don't know how she did in her pageant.  But she did it, and I think that is the point of it all.  And as a parent  of a boy whose life has taken him in a very different direction than any of us would have wanted or imagined, and one who will be judged by some because of his scars, or his limp, or his diagnosis, I should know better.  I really should.  I could come up with all manner of quotes or Bible verses about not judging, but my mind keeps coming back to a song I used to sing in Children's Choir, so very long ago:

He's still working on me,
To make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars,
The sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be.
He's still working on me.

Thank goodness.

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